Augusta, MAINE – The morning after Maine voters overwhelmingly approved an expansion of Medicaid to extend health insurance to 70,000 people across the state, Governor Paul LePage threw up roadblocks to implementing their will while Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Mayhew appeared on WVOM’s George Hale Ric Tyler Show to say that, if elected Governor, she would do the same.
“All because you put a couple sentences on the ballot, and in this case you have incredibly low voter turnout, and now we’re going to have the Legislature and a Governor contemplate how are you going to pay for this,” Mayhew said. “This can get passed in the ballot box -- it does not absolve the Legislature’s and the Governor’s responsibility to comprehensively evaluate and do the right thing for Mainers.”
Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett issued the following statement in response:
“It’s insulting to Maine voters that the morning after they overwhelmingly approved extending healthcare to 70,000 people across the state, Governor LePage and Mary Mayhew all but declare complete and total opposition to their will and begin working to find ways to stop it,” said MDP Chairman Phil Bartlett. “Their unwillingness to honor the wishes of the voters not only shows how deeply out of touch they are with the people of Maine, but how they will apparently stop at nothing to put their extreme ideology ahead of the needs of Mainers.
“Maine people deserve a Governor who will respect them and their wishes – and they deserve a Governor who will recognize that extending health care to more people is not only good for our state, but it’s good for our economy too. The Maine Democratic Party is committed to ensuring that the will of the voters is fully implemented, and that our state has the opportunity to benefit from Medicaid expansion.”
During her tenure as DHHS Commissioner, Mayhew helped LePage block Medicaid expansion multiple times, including bipartisan proposals. Her failure to expand Medicaid prevented 60,000-80,000 Mainers from obtaining health coverage, and the opportunity to decrease the uninsured population by 44 percent, more than any other state. Instead, Mayhew allowed Maine to lose out on $900 million in hospital reimbursements and $3.1 billion in federal funding. Rejection of Medicaid cost Maine $1 million a day under Mayhew and “has not made Maine people more healthy, but it has driven up health care costs.”
Furthermore, as head of DHHS, Mayhew not only opposed Medicaid expansion, but she also worked to cut benefits for Mainers in need. In 2014, LePage and Mayhew reduced Medicaid benefits for more than 20,000 low-income parents, seniors and disabled Mainers. Mayhew said the cuts were, “unavoidable and won’t go far enough.” In 2017, Mayhew wrote President Trump asking for permission to cut MaineCare even further, seeking to “establish work or education requirements on able-bodied recipients, impose a five-year lifetime limit, add monthly premiums, establish a $20 co-pay for emergency room visits” for MaineCare recipients.